Undocumented Filipinos Are Living a Special Nightmare in Trump’s America

As paranoia spreads over the Trump administration’s promised immigration crackdown, there’s a video circulating around California’s immigrant communities.

In it, two people — Lolita Lledo, an immigrants rights activist, and Steve Angeles, a reporter — are making rounds in a Los Angeles neighborhood. Lledo has of late been bombarded with rumors of immigration officers poking around local businesses. To keep the hysteria at bay, the two have been investigating the claims.

Lledo’s organization is erring on the side of caution — a day later they run a “know your rights” workshop for locals. Someone posts a picture on Facebook, grabbing only the backs of participants so that it’s a sea of black hair. “Standing room and fully-packed,” the caption reads.

Lledo has a reason to be on-edge. Recently, headline-grabbing ICE raids were carried out on Asian-American communities like theirs.

Yes, Asian communities. Lledo and Angeles are Filipino-American — or Fil-Am, as many in the community shorten it.

Donald Trump distinguished himself last year by calling Mexicans rapists and vowing to build a wall along the southern border. Elected into office, he ante-ed up on the anti-Mexican demagoguery with a travel ban on Arab and African Muslim travelers. But promises to end undocumented immigration target so-called “model minorities” too.

In fact, in addition to having the fastest-growing documented immigration rate in the United States, Asian Americans also have the fastest growing rate of undocumented immigration. A sizable number of these, like the nervous residents of Lledo’s community, are Filipino.

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Ombudsman orders dismissal of 5 officials of Muslim-Filipino commission

MANILA — The Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal of 5 executives of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) after they were found guilty of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service over the allegedly anomalous use of the P3.8-million Priority Assistance Development Fund (PDAF).
Ordered dismissed were NCMF commissioner Mehol Sadain, director Galay Makalanggay, acting chief accountant Fedelina Aldanese, acting chief Aurora Aragon-Mabang, and cashier Olga Galido.
The administrative case stemmed from former Maguindanao congressman Simeon Datumanong's PDAF, which is intended to finance livelihood programs such as soap-making, candle-making and meat-processing for the municipalities of Mamasapano, Ampatuan and Datu Abdullah Sanki.

NCMF was the implementing agency, while Maharlikang Lipi Foundation Inc. was the partner non-government organization.
But the Commission on Audit found that the foundation was chosen without public bidding, thus violating the auditor's selection rules.
The Ombudsman said the dismissed NCMF officials participated in the preparation, processing and approval of the memorandum of agreement and the PDAF documents governing the project implementation and fund releases to the foundation.
"The funds in question could not have been transferred to the MLFI if not for the recommendations as well as certifications, approval, and signatures found in the corresponding disbursement vouchers and checks," the Ombudsman's decision read.
"[There was] extraordinary accommodation extended to MLFI in the examination, processing and approval by the concerned NCMF officers of the PDAF releases as show by the unnumbered and undated disbursement vouchers; and issuance of check prior to execution of the Memorandum of Agreement."
The dismissed officials have been perpetually disqualified from holding public office, and will have to pay fines equivalent to their annual salaries in case of separation from the service.

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Mighty Corp denies bribe try on Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – Mighty Corporation, the cigarette company whose owner President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered arrested for allegedly using fake tax stamps, denies it ever attempted to bribe the President.
"On the bribery attempt allegedly perpetrated by Mighty Corporation, the company, through its counsel, Atty. Sigfrid Fortun categorically denied any occasion or participation in the supposed incident," the company said in a statement on Tuesday night, March 7.
"Mighty has never taken part nor has it ever indulged in such activity especially with officers of the incumbent administration," the company added.

Earlier on Tuesday, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella confirmed that Duterte had talked about an "attempt to influence him financially" during the March 6 Cabinet meeting.
Abella refused to elaborate on the matter. Later on, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo gave more details to media.
Panelo relayed Duterte's story as he understood it: that Duterte once received a gift which he thought was a box of wine but turned out to be a box of cash. Duterte supposedly ordered the box returned to the sender.
Panelo told media the sender was the "owner of Mighty Corporation."
Duterte eventually confirmed Panelo's story but clarified that the incident occured when he was still Davao City mayor.
Special Assistant to the President Secretary Bong Go also confirmed that the sender of the cash gift was Mighty Corporation.

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Lopez to CA member: Tell your brother he killed a mountain

MANILA – Environment Secretary Gina Lopez did not mince words during her confirmation hearing at the Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday, March 8.
While presenting her plans for mines affected by her department's closure orders, Lopez addressed San Juan City Representative Ronaldo Zamora, the vice chair of the CA.
"Sorry, Mr Chairman, but that's your mine,” Lopez said referring to Hinatuan Mining Corporation which she ordered closed in February.
After she was corrected, Lopez continued: "That's your brother's mine.... Because Sir, you know they've been mining this for 20 years, and the mountain was really big and the mountain got small, and that's not legal at all, you've totally killed the mountain. Tell your brother he totally killed the mountain."


The congressman's older brother, Manuel Zamora, is the founder and chairman of Nickel Asia Corporation. Representative Zamora served in the board of Nickel Asia until his retirement from the company in 2013.
After the hearing that lasted two hours, Zamora told reporters that he has "no economic and financial interests" in any of his brother's companies.
Asked if he felt slighted with Lopez's remarks, he said he's already used to this since he's in politics.
"Very clearly she is passionate about her job," Zamora said of Lopez. "Whether she is qualified or not, that is something that the commission will be determining."

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Witness tags Duterte son in Davao killings


By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) |Retired police officer Arthur Lascañas is grilled by senators yesterday over his claims that President Duterte ordered killings in Davao City through a death squad. GEREMY PINTOLO

MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte and his son Paolo had taken part in killings in Davao City, with the then city mayor reportedly showing no compunction over “collateral damage” in the alleged killing sprees, a self-confessed former death squad member told a Senate panel yesterday.

Retired Senior Police Officer 3 Arthur Lascañas hurled the accusation before the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

At the end of the hearing, most of the senators appeared unconvinced by Lascañas’ narrative as the panel ended its inquiry into his claims that President Duterte had directed the killings of criminal suspects and opponents using the Davao death squad (DDS).

Lascañas was the main witness in the first and last hearing conducted yesterday by Lacson’s committee.

The witness also said national police chief Ronald dela Rosa, then Davao City police chief, was aware of the DDS operations but had no actual involvement.

As the hearing progressed, Lascañas was thought to be someone only wanting a payback for failing last year to secure profitable business contracts that he thought he would bag using his alleged closeness to Duterte.


Lascañas surfaced last Feb. 20 at the Senate for a “public confession,” tagging Duterte as having ordered the assassination of broadcaster Jun Pala and the killing of hundreds of other people when he was still mayor of Davao City.

The retired policeman said he had a “spiritual renewal” around October 2015 when he survived a kidney transplant and decided to tell all on the killings he had allegedly witnessed or participated in upon the direct or indirect orders of Duterte.

Yesterday, the senators zeroed in on his recantation of his testimony before the Senate on Oct. 3 that the DDS did not exist and that the statements of self-confessed hit man Edgar Matobato were not true.

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Body of beheaded German hostage found in Philippines

(CNN)Officials have found the body of Jurgen Kantner, a German hostage beheaded by Islamist militants in the Philippines last week.

Kantner's body was retrieved Saturday in the southern province of Sulu, officials said.
"We will coordinate with the appropriate offices for the disposition of the remains of the victim," Western Mindanao Command Maj. Gen. Carlito G. Galvez Jr. said.

German national Jurgen Kantner and his partner, Sabine Merz, in 2009, months after they were freed by Somali pirates.
Philippine and German officials confirmed last week that Kantner had been killed after being held for three months by Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippines.
It was the second time Kanter had been abducted. He was held along with his partner, Sabine Merz, by Somali pirates for nearly two months in 2008.
Kanter was beheaded by Abu Sayyaf after a deadline to pay his ransom passed. The group had demanded 30 million Philippine pesos ($600,000) by February 26.
Abu Sayyaf posted a gruesome video of its militants killing the man with a curved knife. The video was distributed by the SITE Intelligence Group.
"The Federal Chancellor condemns the abominable act, which once again shows how unscrupulous and inhumane these terrorists are. We all must stand together and fight against them," said Steffen Seibert, spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte apologized to

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Duterte admits he knows Lascañas

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, February 27, admitted knowing retired policeman Arturo “Arthur” Lascañas, the whistle-blower who is linking him to killings in Davao City when he was mayor.
“As a policeman, yes. I saw him once, twice a year,” Duterte told reporters in Malacañang when asked if he knew Lascañas.
The veteran Davao cop has signed an affidavit on February 19, 2017, that said Duterte had personal knowledge of the killings in the city as mayor for over 2 decades. It was the opposite of his Senate testimony in October last year, where he denied the existence of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) and the alleged participation of Duterte in it.
Saying he feared for his life then, Lasañas said at a press conference last week that he was willing to testify on all the killings that the President had ordered him to do.
In his affidavit which was sent to the media by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Monday, Lascañas said Duterte did the following to the DDS:
· clear specific operations
· give specific orders and instructions
· meet with Lascañas and some members of the group in his Central Park residence
· gave assurances of protection to policemen who were part of the DDS
· look for a hitman to kill broadcaster Jun Pala
· give out millions of pesos as reward
Duterte told reporters he never denied that hundreds of criminals died in Davao. “Sa 23 years ko, eh talagang naubos,” he said. (In my 23 years as mayor, they all died.)
The President said that when he was mayor, it was his style to give soldiers and policemen money during command conferences, to help them in their operations against criminals. Policemen needed money for their buy-bust operations, and some would pocket the money for their own use, he lamented. “Magtanong ka [sa] lahat ng army, lahat ng pulis na dumaan ng Davao. I give money every command conference, tapos operating [expenses]. Ngayong kung meron silang buy-bust maghingi ng pera iyan pambili, kasi kung wala kang pera, walang transaction sa shabu. Iyong iba binulsa tapos sinabi binibigyan.”
It's not clear yet whether Lascañas would be given the chance to testify again before the Senate.
Majority of the senators last week decided to reopen the DDS probe given Lascañas' new affidavit.
But a revamp happened at the Senate on Monday, removing senators who favored a Lascañas testimony from key leadership positions. The impact of the reorganization on the scheduled DDS investigation this week is not immediately clear. – Rappler.com

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Transport strike: Why pick on jeepneys to fix traffic problems?

MANILA – Jeepney drivers and operators in Metro Manila and key cities across the country halted their operations on Monday, February 27, to protest government proposals to phase out old public utility vehicles (PUVs), especially jeepneys.
Modernizing the Philippines' mass transit system should not necessarily entail getting public utility jeepneys (PUJ) off the streets, they said.
Senate Bill 1284 and House Bill 4334, seeking to modernize the transport sector, are pending.
The protest rally was spearheaded by the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) and affected travel for commuters.
In the Bicol region – specifically in the provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur, and Camarines Norte – members of the Concerned Drivers and Operators (Condor-Piston) said 95% of local transport operators participated.
They said 100% of local jeepneys and UV Express drivers joined the strike. Condor-PISTON, they said, has 12,000 members.
Ramos Rescovilla of Daraga town said about 3,500 jeepneys halted operations in the region. "Our regionwide transport strike is completely successful with 3,500 unit of jeepneys and 12,000 strong members halted from operations," he said.
The Philippine National Police in Bicol went on full alert. They set up police assistance centers in the region to assist stranded commuters and prevent untoward incidents during the strike.

'Attack on poor drivers'
Francisco Pagayaman, chairman of the urban poor group Kadamay in Northern Mindanao, said the planned disposal of outmoded PUJs would deprive drivers and operators of their livelihood.
“It is an attack on the poor drivers and operators? while the capitalists will benefit from it. The P7 million franchising fee is practically not affordable,” Pagayaman said.
Anakbayan commended jeepney drivers and operators "for their strike that brings back to national consciousness the issue of public mass transport."
It added, "Piston and other participants in today's strike deserve our full support for showing the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the Department of Transportation as the agency in charge of public mass transport."
Anakbayan continued, "This is an agency that is quick to police the ranks of jeepney drivers, but is quiet about Uber and Grab surges, accidents involving big bus fleets, abuses by airlines, malpractices by big taxi operations, and outright deception by MRT and LRT consortia."
The Kabataan group, for its part, said that they are not against modernization, but corporations, and not the drivers and operators, stand to benefit from it.
“The drivers have been suffering every time there is an increase in fuel prices due to the

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Rape, plunder, treason to be removed from death penalty bill

MANILA – The House majority bloc decided to further water down the death penalty bill by removing rape, plunder, and treason to get more votes for the controversial measure.
This was revealed by House justice committee chairperson Reynaldo Umali following a majority caucus on Monday, February 27. Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez attended the meeting as well.
"We agreed that [the] bill will be limited to drug-related heinous crimes…. So tanggal na 'yung treason, 'yung plunder, 'yung rape (So we will be removing treason, plunder, and rape)," said Umali.
With the latest decision, House Bill (HB) 4727 is expected to be further amended to just include the following drug-related crimes:
· Importation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals
· Sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution, and transportation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals
· Maintenance of a drug den, dive, or resort
· Manufacture of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals
· Cultivation or culture of plants classified as dangerous drugs or are sources thereof
· Unlawful prescription of dangerous drugs
· Criminal liability of a public officer or employee for misappropriation, misapplication, or failure to account for the confiscated, seized and/or surrendered dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment including the proceeds or properties obtained from the unlawful act committed
· Criminal liability for planting evidence concerning illegal drugs
The Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Representative explained that the majority bloc realized it can garner more votes for the measure if the bill will just retain the drug offenses.
"Kasi meron kaninang mga issues na ni-raise na meron ding effect on the economy, 'yung sa trade natin (Because they raised issues that it will have effects on the economy, trade) and so on and so forth, but that is not I guess the real reason. It is more of 'yung getting the consensus of the group... It became easier when we limited it to just one [type of] crime," said Umali.
"Sa rape, lumabas 'yun sa top 3 nung nagkaroon kami ng

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PH resumes war on drugs

MANILA – Less than a month after he suspended his controversial war on drugs, President Rodrigo Duterte announced during a press conference in Malacanang on Tuesday, Feb. 28, that he was resuming the all-out war that had claimed more than 7,000 lives.

The president had suspended the nationwide police action last month after the killing of Korean executive Jee Ick Joo by anti-drug operatives of the Philippine National Police (PNP) inside Camp Crame.

Duterte told PNP chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa – whom he had ordered to conduct a cleansing of the police -- to form task forces at all stations for anti-drug operations.

He said the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) will still lead the anti-drug operations.

“I asked Bato to recruit young men in the PNP who are imbued with the fervor of patriotism to be the members only of the task forces. Every station should have one. Pero iyong piling-pili. Iyong mga walang kaso at walang history ng korapsyon,” President Duterte said, following Monday’s joint command conference of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and PNP in the palace.

“I have to do it because kulang ako ng tao. And I am also fighting again with the NPAs and I have this problem in Mindanao about terrorism and drugs. So kailangan ko ng tao. I have to call back the police again to do the job most of the time sa drugs. Hindi lahat,” he said.

More than 7,000 suspected drug pushers and users have been killed since Mr. Duterte assumed the presidency seven months ago, resulting in criticism from church groups, as well as international and local human rights organizations.

The resumption of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs coincides with a return to hostilities with the

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